Shedding Skin

By

Anessa Ramsey

Disclaimer:  I own nothing.  Everything belongs to J.K Rowling

Summary:  Seventh year at Hogwarts (and beyond graduation) turns out a little different for two people who thought they'd never have anything in common.

Ship:  Hermione/Draco

POV:  Hermione

A/N:  This is my first attempt at a Hermione/Draco pairing.  Characters may be OOC but that's just the way I needed them to be for this story to work.  The idea just sort of came to me this morning and I had to write it down.  If you like it let me know.  If not, go write your own fic.

~~~~~~~~~Fic Here~~~~~~~~~

                  I tried to save him once.  I believe I succeeded.  I'm not quite sure why I did it.  All he ever did was insult me, call me mudblood.  Yet I still tried to save him.  Maybe it's because I actually saw him.  For just a short while he let me in and he was beautiful.  I didn't realize it until later but I loved him that night.

                  Sometimes you have to learn things the hard way.  Like the fact that there are things not even magic can fix.  That fateful night I snuck up to the Astronomy tower to do some homework and was surprised to see it already occupied.  He was trying to reach his wand, which was a few feet from where he lay on the floor, bleeding and bruised.  Revulsion churned in my stomach and apparently I gasped because he stopped moving.

                  "Who's there?" he asked, valiantly trying to hide the tremor in his voice.  That was when I realized that he couldn't see because his eyes were swollen shut.

                  "It's just me.  Hermione.  You know, the mudblood."  He didn't say anything and that's when I knew something worse than being physically injured was wrong with him.  Draco always had something to say.  "I'm going to go get Dumbledore.  He'll bring Professor Snape and Madam Pomfrey to help you."

                  "No!" he yelled, coughing because of the effort it took.

                  "But…"

                  He sighed softly, "Please."

                  I don't know why I agreed.  Maybe it was because for once he set aside his damned Malfoy pride and said please.  I grabbed his wand and sat down against the wall.  Carefully, so as not to hurt him too much, I took my wand out and began to heal him as best I could with the spells I knew.  I fixed a broken rib, a couple of cuts that were bleeding on his face, and made it so that his eyes were no longer swollen and bruised.  It's the emotional injuries that I couldn't heal.  Gently I pulled him between my legs and let him lean back against my chest.  I tried not to think about how right it felt.  When I rested my chin on his shoulder he asked me, "Why?"

                  "Because no one deserves this.  Not even you, Draco."  He looked marginally better than when I found him.  His pale hair fell into his eyes and I smoothed it back.  Neither of us moved or said anything after that simple gesture until my curiosity got the better of me.  "Who?"

                  He knew what I meant and was quiet for some time before saying, "My father."

                  No wonder he didn't want me to get Dumbledore or Snape.  He didn't want anyone to know and the whole school would have found out if I'd gone to one of the professors.  "Why?"  I didn't understand.  I grew up with such loving parents that I couldn't grasp how one could beat their own child so brutally.

                  "I told him I'm not going to take the dark mark after graduation."

                  I thought of myself as pretty unshockable, but there I was, shocked.  Draco Malfoy made the right decision.  I think I wrapped my arms around his chest then, and hugged him.  I never noticed before how slim, yet muscular, he was.  But that night what made him beautiful wasn't physical.  He stood up to his father, knowing what would happen.  I was actually proud of him for that. 

                  We stayed there the entire night talking about ourselves.  We discussed our favorite books, his secret passion for muggle music, my love of animals and habit of finding injured and stray animals.  He laughed at that and asked if that's what he was.  It was nice.  For one night I was no longer Hermione Granger, student extraordinaire and he wasn't Draco Malfoy, foe of the magnificent Harry Potter.  We shed the protective skin we shielded ourselves with during the day and learned that we had more in common than we ever thought possible. 

                  I knew though that once we left the tower things would go back to the way they'd always been.  You can only avoid the real world for so long.  He knew it too, so we made the most of the time we had.

                  He kissed me that night.  When the first rays of dawn broke over the horizon we walked down the stairs, reluctant to leave our sanctuary.  Right before we reached the door he turned to me and pressed me to the wall.  It was the tenderest kiss I've ever received.  It was passionate and lingering, but most of all it was sad.  It was a moment out of time.  Tears rolled down my cheeks and we clung to each other because for a few hours in an Astronomy tower we actually belonged, and we didn't want to lose that.

                  That day we went back to our own worlds.  I went back to being Ron and Harry's sidekick and he kept up with the insults, though they were no longer filled with malice and I was hard pressed not to smile when he called me mudblood.  I knew he no longer meant it and I saw the way the corners of his mouth tilted up each time he said it.  Ron never noticed anything different, but Harry did.  He always was observant.  He cornered me two weeks after the tower and asked what was going on with Draco and me.  I was honest…mostly.  I told him there was nothing going on between us, just that we'd come to an understanding.  He wanted to know more but I think he also knew that I wouldn't answer, so he let it go.

                  The rest of our seventh year passed quickly and it was over far too soon.  I watched, saddened as Lucius Malfoy dragged Draco from the hall when the ceremony was over.  He never came back for the celebration.

                  I went to work for the Ministry under the supervision of Arthur Weasley.  I'd been there a month when I heard the rumor that Draco had taken the mark.  People said he was just like his father, but I knew different.  He never would have taken the mark willingly.  Using Ministry resources I found out where he was living and went to him.  He was in London, in a flat near Regents Park.  I don't think he was surprised when he opened the door and saw me.  He just let me in.  We said nothing.  I touched the place on his arm where the mark marred his skin, never taking my eyes from his.  He cupped my cheek in his hand and no words were needed.  I gave my virginity to Draco Malfoy.  I gave him my body and soul, and he gave me a gift beyond measure…his love.  He didn't say the words, but he showed me every time he touched me and kissed me and made love to me.

                  We were living on borrowed time.  For two days we laughed, loved, and forgot about the world.  On the third day I woke to an empty bed.  I pulled on one of Draco's t-shirts and went into the living room.  He wasn't there but my former potions professor was.  Snape didn't look surprised to see me, even in my scandalous lack of attire.  He just looked sad as he handed me an envelope with my name on it.  He left then, apparating back to Hogwarts and his cold, lonely dungeon rooms.  I waited until he was gone before I read it.

Granger,

                  It wouldn't be me if I filled this letter with sappy words and

we both know it.  That's one of the things you like about me, my

ability to be straightforward without all the sentimental bullshit.  You

screwed up everything, you know.  There were certain things I

expected in my life, beating from my father, being angry and bitter

about life in general, and living in Potter's shadow.  That night in the

tower…it changed me.  No one has ever really liked me, or even

really seen me.  I never really let them.  I guess what I'm trying to

say is that I'm glad it was you who found me that night.

                  I wish I didn't have to leave you this note.  It's kind of a

bad way to have to say good-bye, but we both know that Voldemort

and my father will come for me eventually and I don't want to involve

you in that.  They'd see you as my weakness and they'd be right. 

Would that I could stay or bring you with me, even if it was only

for the sex.

                  You know it's more than that right?  I know I didn't say it. 

Those words are…hard for me to say, but you felt it didn't you? 

I tried to show you…

                  The war is coming, no matter how much we wish it wasn't. 

Stay safe.  Don't do anything heroic, not even for Potter or Weasley. 

I'm only going to ask one favor.  Don't wait for me.  I'd like to think

you're happy, even if it's with someone else.

I love you, Hermione Granger 

I never thought I'd actually say that and mean it.  It feels nice. 

And it's true.

Draco

                  I cried for hours, missing him.  For a week I lived like a robot.  It was as if my mind was with Draco and all that was left was a shell of a person.  Ginny Weasley was the one who told me to get it together and do what he asked me to.  So I lived my life.  I got together with Ron and Harry more often.  I went shopping with Lavender and had lunch with Ginny almost every day.  Things were going good until I started getting sick and had to go to the doctor.  It turns out Draco gave me a gift, proof that we loved.

                  Every second of my pregnancy was a blessing.  I told no one who the father was.  Professor Snape, Professor McGonagall, and Headmaster Dumbledore knew of course, but vowed no to tell Draco.  I didn't want him to risk coming out of hiding.  Harry knew too.  He was there when my beautiful baby girl was born.  I named her Lillith Anne.

                  It's been six years since Draco went into hiding, two since Voldemort got his war and was finally destroyed.  Lillith is five now and takes after Draco in both looks and personality, with her white blond hair, silvery gray eyes, and mischievous streak a mile wide.  Everyone knows who her father is now.  They can tell just by looking at her.  Ron was furious and threatened to kill 'the ferrety git'.  Harry managed to calm him.

                  Draco asked me not to wait and I tried to date other people.  Seamus Finnegan and I saw each other for six months, but we both knew that we were just meant to be friends.  I made him Lillith's godfather.  He loves her like she's his own.  I didn't ask Harry or Ron because no matter how much they care for her, they still see the Malfoy in her.  Ginny Weasley is her godmother.  She understands.  She's the only one I've ever told the whole story to.  She's the only one who knows that I'm waiting for him, though I think Harry and Seamus suspect it. 

                  He asked me not to wait, but my heart's been his since a cool autumn night in an Astronomy tower at a school of witchcraft and wizardry, a night when I didn't have to be perfect Hermione Granger and he didn't have to be evil Draco Malfoy.  We were just ourselves and we fell in love.  How can I not wait?